Including your work experience on your resume helps potential employers understand the skills and background you'd bring to their company. Companies assess this section of resumes closely to determine whether applicants like you would be a good fit for their position. Presenting your work experience clearly and effectively increases your chance of securing interviews for roles that suit you best. In this article, we explain how to highlight your work experience on your resume to make a positive impression on any potential employers.
What is a resume work experience section?
The work experience section of your resume contains information about your professional experience. Depending on your background, this section could include details about paid full-time and part-time positions, temporary roles, volunteer work and unpaid work experience. Highlighting paid positions in your resume work experience section is most important. However, if you have limited paid experience or your unpaid experience is especially relevant, volunteer positions could also be included in your resume.
Every position listed on your work experience section should include:
- Your job title
- The company or organisation
- The dates you worked there
- A summary of your position
- Your key responsibilities
- Your notable achievements
Why is work experience on a resume important?
Including work experience on a resume matters because it helps employers gauge the skills, experience, capabilities and notable achievements you'd bring to their company and how you'd perform. Your work experience also helps employers compare you to other applicants. This is especially important when job posts attract many candidates with similar educational backgrounds.
How to write the work experience section of your resume
Here are seven steps to clearly communicate your work experience on your resume:
1. Write the key details of your current or last job
List your specific position title and your company's full, official name. Then on a new line, list the month and year you started the role. If you still have this job, write '-Present'. If you are not currently employed, list the month and year you left that job. Using the month and year format helps your job application pass through Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software.
2. Summarise your role
In one or two sentences, explain your role is or was and how this role is important to the company. If the company is small or largely unknown outside of its location, describe the business so a new employer understands more about this workplace. This section should be a concise overview, as you will explain the specifics of your job in greater detail below.
3. List your key responsibilities
Write the subheading 'Key responsibilities', then create a brief bullet-point list of your job's key responsibilities. Using action verbs, list two or three tasks performed regularly. Try to choose diverse duties that showcase a range of skills.
4. Note your achievements
Write the subheading 'Achievements', then create a bullet-point list of two or three noteworthy things you achieved in that role. Be as specific as you can with every bullet-point. For example, rather than simply writing that you helped increase your department's sales figures, you might note that you helped sales increase by 120%. Use this section to highlight any of the following:
- Promotions: If you received a new job title or responsibilities during your employment, make sure to indicate these.
- Awards: Mention any awards received within your company and industry recognition for your work.
- Publication: Note any publication of your work in academic journals or industry resources. If these resources have an online presence, include the web address of your published work for the employer's reference.
- Job recognition: Mention other times people recognised you for your work. For example, you might mention giving an interview on a television program or leading a team on a specific project.
These accolades show you are an exceptional employee, who may also excel for a new employer. These honours can also set you apart from other candidates.
5. Repeat the steps above to complete your work experience section
Follow each step above again for the position you held before your current or last role. Continue this process until your work experience section shows your work history in reverse-chronological order.
6. Proofread your work carefully
Read through your complete work experience section, looking for any errors in spelling, grammar or formatting. Correct these errors as you see them to make your resume look professional. You could also ask a trusted friend or colleague to review your work experience section for errors.
7. Revise your work experience section over time
As you become more experienced, your work experience list will grow. After establishing yourself in your field, you can remove positions from your work experience list that use an unrelated and non-transferrable skill set to the positions you seek.
For example, an employer hiring a marketing manager will care more about your marketing experience than your time working in a fast-food outlet. However, if you are applying for your first marketing role after graduating from university, any experience counts. Listing a fast-food cashier role shows you work well with people and can be responsible, as you handled payments.
As a rule, remove any positions you held more than 20 years ago. Most resumes are between one and three pages, so you can also remove any old jobs you don't have space for. If you are a recent graduate or new to your field, a one-page resume is usually sufficient. If you are more established in your career, a three-page resume may work better. As your list becomes longer, you may also like to separate your work experience into two sections: one for paid work experience and another for volunteer jobs.
Read more: How to Write a Resume Employers Will Notice
Resume work experience writing tips
The following writing tips can help the work experience section of your resume stand out from other candidates:
Consistent formatting makes your work experience section easy to read and follow. Always expressing dates in the same way, bolding the same sections and using the same bullet points, for example, helps employers know what to expect.
Use keywords from job descriptions
When you apply for a new role, cross-reference your resume's work experience section with the job description. Note the job description's keywords, such as duties you'll perform and the job title, and add the relevant ones to your resume. Making these small changes whenever you submit a new job application will help employers know you're a suitable candidate. It also helps your resume pass through ATS software.
Concise information is easy to read and makes your main points stand out. Write bullet points of no more than two lines. A summary of one sentence is sufficient, although you may use two sentences for senior or complex roles.
Lead with your most compelling points
Order your bullet points so the most compelling ones come first. These may be your greatest responsibilities, the tasks that took up most of your time or your most notable achievements. Starting strong can encourage employers to keep reading.
Work experience example for a resume
Here is an example of a well-written work experience section on a resume. Use this example to write and format your own work experience section.
Editorial assistant at Style Pages
Answering directly to the fashion magazine's editor, I performed a range of editorial and administrative duties to assist senior journalists.
- Writing articles for magazine and the web including product reviews and fashion news
- Transcribing interviews with models and designers
- Sorting and answering mail and compiling 'Letters to the Editor' page from monthly submissions
- Increased 'Letters to the Editor' submissions by 30% after introducing a monthly prize
- First feature article, 'All the Hottest Looks for Autumn 2020' published February 2020
Volunteer position at Big Hit Magazine
May 2017–May 2018
While completing my university studies, I volunteered at Big Hit Magazine once a week. During my time at this pop culture magazine, I performed a wide range of duties to familiarise myself with the publishing world.
- Accompanying journalists on interviews and events
- Maintaining advertiser and subscriber databases using Microsoft Access
- Sorting mail and sending prize packs to competition winners
- Name and photo printed in a magazine from July 2017, showing I was a valued member of the team
- Received a letter of recommendation when I left to pursue a full-time opportunity in May 2018
Checkout assistant at Foodmarket
June 2012–May 2018
I scanned groceries and provided customer assistance for shoppers at the North Sydney store.
- Scanning and bagging groceries
- Counting products during annual stocktaking
- Tidying and cleaning area around checkouts to maintain supermarket presentation standards
- Received customer recommendation letter for exceptional customer service in September 2017
- Named 'Employee of the Month' in September 2017 and January 2018